Ahead of their sold-out gigs in Croke Park this weekend, Laura Delaney takes a look back at some of Westlife's most memorable tunes and eyebrow-raising videos.
Since they first graced radio and MTV back in 1999 Westlife, aka the kings of the stool rises, have promised to never "treat you bad" because they never "wanna see you sad" and for the best part they stayed true to their word.
Ahead of their sold-out gigs at the GAA headquarters over the weekend, we take a look back at some of the group's most memorable (and downright cringey) tunes.
1. Bop Bop Baby
If the wacky title didn't lure you in, maybe watching five musketeers cartwheeling down a church aisle wearing billowing shirts won you over?
Love it or loathe it, this was up there with the trippiest and most bizarre offerings to come from the group. The video took 32 hours to make and was supposed to look like medieval France, but it was actually recorded at an old university in Hertfordshire.
There were 25 extras on set, seven stuntmen, two horses, and Janty Yates (the costume designer for Russell Crowe's box office smash Gladiator) - but it's safe to say that Mark's goatee stole the show!
From Vinnie Jones playing the villain to the narrated prelude that took us to a time when "men were still men, women were still virgins, and sex was still sexy," the whole set up was just BONKERS.
The single did relatively well in the charts but in an interview shortly after its release the band claimed they didn't want to release the, eh unusual, song and wanted to replace it with Why Do I Love You, which they already had a video recorded for.
Oh the bop bop baby.... we are so glad this track wasn't let go!
Fun fact: Naomi Campbell was originally cast as the leading lady but she cancelled at the last minute, and randomly, Ronnie Wood's daughter Leah filled in.
2. Flying Without Wings
An anthem, a sheer belter, and the song that makes it all complete!
On October 18, 1999, Flying Without Wings was released as the third single from Westlife's self-titled debut studio album, and 20 years on, the key changes, all-white ensembles, and uplifting message are still above ground level.
According to co-writer Wayne Hector, the lyrics were completed in about half an hour and the idea came to him while on a break from working on a hip hop session with Ezi Cut in Los Angeles.
"I came up with a couple of lines for the first verse and then phoned my mama's house, left it on the answering machine, and said, 'Don’t get rid of this!’, he told HitQuarters.
Hector's songwriting partner and producer, the legendary Steve Mac, later admitted that the lyrics are about their wives, sweetly adding that their spouses "make our lives complete".
In a documentary aired on UTV called Westlife Back Home, Shane Filan said it’s probably the best song of their career, while former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern (Nicky Byrne's father-in-law) revealed it is his favourite tune from the chart-topping band.
In May 2018, the track was performed on Korean music programme Immortal Songs 2 by a contestant called Ali, who placed second that night.
Westlife member Shane Filan was the featured 'Legend' and judged the contestants, and if you look closely, it looks like he gets a little teary-eyed. But sure who could blame him?
Fun fact: The song was originally meant for Boyzone's Stephen Gately, but Simon Cowell had other plans for his first solo single.
3. Swear it Again
Westlife will never want to let go of this cracker as it was their debut single AND their first track to top the UK and Irish charts.
It also became their ONLY song to chart in the US peaking at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and ranking number 75 on the Billboard Hot 100 year-end charts in 2000.
Speaking of the U-S-A, did you know the band were originally named Westside but had to rethink the name because of an existing American group?
Cowell previously revealed how his late father, Eric Cowell, listened to all of Westlife's songs and called the shot on Swear it Again being the lads' first release. Sadly, his father died during the premiere week of the release of the single from a massive heart attack.
Fun fact: The UK music video features the quintet in a mini theatre belting out a tune on a stage while they face a screen with black-and-white videos of themselves in a recording studio, while the US music video sees the group pulling some serious poses at a car wash and giving the Backstreet Boys a run for their money.
4. Uptown Girl
Over the years, Westlife have been no strangers to cover songs, but their ship definitely came in with this catchy ditty.
The updated version of Billy Joel’s infamous track was the talk of the town back in 2001 and was responsible for many a young gent delicately grabbing stools in their local pubs in the hopes of impressing the ladies.
Not only did it become the biggest selling Irish single of the year, but it also cemented its place among the top ten best-selling Comic Relief singles of all time.
Ever wonder how supermodel Claudia Schiffer snagged a cameo in the video? Well, it turns out screenwriter Richard Curtis, one of the founders of the Comic Relief campaign, knew her agent who was able to convince her to take on the role made famous by Joel’s wife Christie Brinkley in the original.
In addition to Schiffer, who was just 30 at the time, the video also featured actors Tim McInnery, James Wilby, Ioan Gruffudd, Robert Bathurst and Crispin Bonham Carter as a crew of city workers.
At the time, Mark Feehily admitted to having "a poster of her on my wall for years" while Kian Egan joked about chancing his arm and getting Schiffer out for a few drinks. We take it things didn't work out there...
Fun fact: The Westlife version is slightly shorter than Billy Joel's outing as one of the verses wasn't repeated.
5. World of Our Own
Why does this jam make us feel funny when it comes around? Some say it's the hypnotising chorus, others believe it's Nicky Byrne's silky shaved head.
Dressed up as gangsters, the lads commit some serious fashion crimes in this video. Nicky can be seen brandishing a Madonna-esque cane, Kian looks like he is overheating in a leather trench coat, and Shane forgot to tell his dad he borrowed his fancy suit.
Once you see past their attempt to be bad boys, this track is an absolute hoot.
Renowned music journalist Chuck Taylor from Billboard praised the song for its "joyfully catchy chorus, itchy train-track-clacking beat, velvet harmonies" and Shane Filan's "glossy, emotive vocals".
He reckoned it would be the song that helped them crack America. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be.
Fun fact: As of April 2019, World of our Own is Westlife's most-streamed song of all time in Ireland with 579,000 streams.
6. What About Now
What about now? What about today? What about the craic to be had in Croker this weekend?
In 2008, with Brian a distant memory, the group belted out another cover, this time it was a tune from rock band Daughtry. A year after the original release, they scored a number two hit with their version. G'wan the lads.
It's up there with their cheesiest lyrics, it has a whopper key change and Mark's smooth harmonies almost melted the surrounding ice caps.
In the video, the band members sing while standing in the bitter wind as snow falls delicately around them near Jökulsárlón, the glacier lagoon in Vatnajökull National Park.
The video is marked as the last film the iconic glacier was seen in prior to distortion caused by a volcanic eruption.
Fun fact: In November 2011, the location was used for the second season of the HBO fantasy TV series Game of Thrones.
7. My Love
How could we forget about the most epic intro of all time?
After the group spend too long availing of the duty-free in an unknown airport and miss their flight Kian threatens to walk home to Sligo, Brian goes off in a huff to count the left over bags on a conveyor belt, and Shane tries to beat his Snake score on his retro Nokia.
It starts off as a humdrum ballad but by the time it gets to the second chorus, it really takes flight with Shane's lungs clocking up some serious air miles. Possibly their most underrated tune?
Fun fact: The song won the Record of the Year in the UK in 2000 beating off Samantha Mumba's Gotta Tell You, Ronan Keating's Life is a Rollercoaster, Craig David's Fill Me In, All Saints' Pure Shores and S Club 7's Reach among the finalists for that awesome year.
8. Hello My Love
Howya lads.......after an 8-year break, Westlife came back with a bang(ing) single.
The up-tempo track, which was penned and produced by Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac, is full of self- deprecating humour ('I know that I'm punching way above') and throwaway comment about veneers.
The energetic melody is rumoured to be the opening number for both of their Croker gigs, so get ready to be up for your feet from the get-go.
The video sees the boys wandering around a barren landscape in California and posing in front of a hot air balloon - as you do.
Fun fact: Hello My Love reached No. 2 in Ireland and Scotland, making it their highest charting single since the band's decade-old What About Now.
Westlife are due to play two concerts at Croke Park in Dublin on Friday (July 5) and Saturday (July 6).
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